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No Summer Doldrums for KALW Audio Academy – Powerful Stories Continue To Be Told

Posted by on Aug 16, 2017 in ACE Learning Center, ACE School Report, Continuing Education | 0 comments

By Ben Trefny, News Director, KALW Public Radio

Just a quick update on Audio Academy doings in the last week at KALW.

Cari Spivack (’17) reported a fun and thoughtful story about the National Parks collaboration with the San Francisco Public Library. The piece was shared widely by the SFPL, and it got retweeted by the Parks service, helping it achieve some virality.

Josiah Luis Alderete (’17) story put together a moving audio essay about Alex Nieto memorials. Nieto was killed by four police officers in 2014, and this powerful story told from the perspective of people living in San Francisco’s Mission District captures mood, culture, and the power of protest.

Other fellows from the class of 2017 have work coming up over the next few weeks. Boawen Wang has completed work on a whole show about Bay Area hip hop that’s currently scheduled to air on August 31. Kanwalroop Kaur Singh‘s series of stories about the plight of Punjabi farmers and their migration to California will run in early September.

Jeremy Jue win’s KALW’s daily award for tracking his whole show with his editor Lisa Morehouse.

And Jeremy Jue just recorded voice tracks for a whole show about a letter writing project that helps people review their lives. We’ll hear that one in late September, after he returns from a well-earned vacation!

Before all that, though, we’ll have the chance to hear the work our summer high school interns completed. We’ve scheduled the stories from Kasey Chen, Eloisa Herbert, Susanna Luo, and Allison Aj-Pop Perez to air on successive days beginning their first day back at school: Monday, August 21. Tune in!

Truc Nguyen (’15), who now works in KALW’s development department, shared a lovely note from a listener about a show put together by our cost of living reporter, Jeremy Dalmas (’14):

“Some months ago while running errands, I was listening to a documentary on the Ghost Ship fire – its context, the history of artist work-space in the Bay Area, and the current impact of housing shortage. I was entertained, educated, and illuminated, feeling connected and compassionate toward the people involved. While I listen to other public radio, I appreciate your locally produced gems. Enclosed is a small donation.”

It’s not just that. This listener handcrafted the card he sent to us, and it’s beautiful. A real gift, and a nice engagement with our community!

Check it out here: Card_ListenerHectorLee

Finally, I’ve been exchanging some thoughts with Ted Muldoon (’15) who currently works on podcasts for The Washington Post. Here’s some of what he has to say:

“Things have been good at The Post. We just launched the main project I’ve been heading, Constitutional. It’s essentially the follow up on [my previous work] Presidential. We’ve really retooled the format of the show, and I’ve tried to put a lot of production quality into the episodes. As a general format, we open on a heavily soundscaped re-enactment scene (in the absence of archival tape), and I’ve been experimenting with writing my own music. Which, to my surprise, had been really fruitful.

“I’m already starting to think about what to do post-Constitutional, which won’t be until January. But I’ve got some ideas I’m excited about, and we’ll see what I’m positioned to accomplish.”

I had a listen to Constitutional and found it captivating. I can say, too, that a conversation therein about federalism versus states’ rights informed a segment I just made on Crosscurrents regarding regions serving as sanctuaries for undocumented immigrants. Very interesting to see how things can come full circle.

Top KALW Audio Academy Stories Prove That Community Tales Are The Best

Posted by on Aug 7, 2017 in ACE Learning Center, ACE School Report, Continuing Education | 0 comments

By Ben Trefny, News Director, KALW Public Radio

Just wanted to give a quick update on some new stories that KALW has aired from recent Audio Academy graduates:

Claire Stremple (’17) made a timely piece about a festival that takes place Sunday just inside San Francisco’s McLaren Park celebrating local resident, and Grateful Dead frontman,  Jerry Garcia. I can tell you, too, that Claire has a habit of making really fun stories that strike a chord with local audiences, and in just one day, the story drew more than 1,300 clicks to become the most popular story at KALW. With the festival coming up, this is a key part of media coverage, and it’s the top Jerry Day story on Google News, too. Way to go!

– Audio Academy graduate Kanwalroop Kaur Singh (’17) made a documentary on young Sikhs in the Bay Area. It had a great flow, introduced us to a community we rarely hear about (and then often only when something bad has happened) and sounded great! Also, it got shared plenty, topping 2,000 clicks online at its peak. I can note, too, that Roop recently returned from a reporting trip to Punjab, India, where she’s been reporting on farming and the aftermath of “the Green Revolution.” I worked with her on stories drawing ties to farming in California’s Central Valley, and she ultimately made three documentary-style features that we’ll be airing around the end of the month. Amazing!

Judy Silber put together a package from The Spiritual Edge with Audio Academy alum Lisa Bartfai (’16). Lisa reported from New Hampshire on an artist working with Russian Orthodox iconography bringing up interesting insights about interpretation and form. If you haven’t heard stories from The Spiritual Edge, do yourself a favor and check them out – consistently among the best stories produced out of our news department!

One other quick note, regarding people who have served as mentors for Audio Academy fellows. A few weeks back, The Stoop launched as a podcast. And after being featured on NPR’s podcast Code Switch, The Stoop was featured on iTunes “New and Noteworthy” podcasts. This coming week hosts Hana Baba and Leila Day will speak at the National Association of Black Journalists’ conference in a seminar about podcasting! Word is spreading about the great stuff happening at KALW!

See How Much National Broadcasters Love KALW and Audio Academy

Posted by on Jul 27, 2017 in ACE Learning Center, ACE School Report, Continuing Education | 0 comments

By Ben Trefny, News Director, KALW Public Radio

I was in Denver for much of this week, joining Your Call host Rose Aguilar and KALW Development Director Annette Bistrup at a conference of the National Federation of Community Broadcasters. It was a terrific experience, and I made some great connections. I also had some very encouraging takeaways while I was there.

For one thing, our training programs are deeply appreciated. The head of the national Association of Independents in Radio (AIR), Sue Schardt, noted our prominence as a talent incubator and podcast launchpad during a session on audience research. AIR program director Ngoc-Tran Vu led a session on podcasting and shouted out KALW’s Audio Academy as a renowned place where people learn how to make meaningful work. Peggy Berryhill, from the Native Media Resource Center, said, “KALW is an extraordinary station.” And Jeff Pope, a station manager from Colorado told me, “Everybody wants to work at KALW.” Two more station managers, from California and Iowa, sat me down to pick my brain about how the Academy works, so they could imitate us in making versions of their own.

People also talked about our wrap-around production work with neighborhood journalists in East Oakland as a model for how they should engage communities. And I had dinner and drinks with one of NPR’s top trainers, Doug Mitchell with the Next Generation project, where we spoke at length about strategy for our expanding work with inmates at San Quentin and Solano State Prisons.

KALW’s active initiatives to bring new voices to contribute to our newsroom and public affairs programming, as well as our strategies for recognizing and lifting up voices of real people in the communities we serve, are exactly the kinds of things other stations throughout the system are trying to do. At this point, for us, helping people learn to tell their stories for broader audiences is an intrinsic and growing part of our culture. It made me very proud to work at a place with such values, and it makes me so happy to have a partner like ACE who shares that kind of worldview.

Two quick hit notes:

Kanwalroop Kaur Sing interviews a farmer in Punjab, India, as part of her international reporting fellowship.

1. Audio Academy graduate Kanwalroop Kaur Singh (’17) recently returned from a reporting trip to Punjab, India as part of the “Bringing Home the World” fellowship from the International Center for Journalists. Right now, I’m editing her stories, which will become a four-part series considering how global agribusiness has impacted the region and ultimately drawn many Punjabi farmers to California’s agricultural belt. Listen for those to air in August!

Marissa Ortega-Welch (right) presents KALW tee-shirts to students she worked with at RYSE Youth Center in Richmond.

2. We recently completed our second live Sights & Sounds show of the year, this one taking place in the city of Richmond. KALW’s health reporter and new training coordinator Marissa Ortega-Welch taught two young people from the RYSE Youth Center how to conceive, tell, and make audio stories about their lives. Those pieces debuted at the East Bay Center for the Performing Arts event, which showcased the arts and culture of Richmond.